MOISTURE profiles and follow-up rain remain a burr in the side of many northern NSW wheat growers, while southern farmers are sowing with much more confidence.
On Tuesday the benchmark AWB pool price for Australian Standard White was steady at $304 a tonne.
Internationally, the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) spot wheat price settled at US695 cents a bushel early this week.
AWB farm marketer Damien Manson, Dubbo, said most market speculators appeared to be holding a neutral position on wheat.
He suggested market speculators had taken profits which have been evident with new crop port values sliding about $20/t during the past few weeks.
“Therefore any spike in values would be a good opportunity to get some coverage,” he said.
He explained this was because there was not a great deal of fundamental bullishness in grains.
Just before the Easter break CBOT spot futures surged to highs not recorded since March, but by Monday the rates where on the way down.
Market Ag director Mark Martin, Quirindi, said because northern NSW had been hit hard by drought during the first three months of this year, some farmers would be taking a punt and planting, even if the moisture profiles were still low.
“If you go further south you find they’re in a good position, but northern NSW has been hit the hardest,” Mr Martin said.
“If we got rain, some might plant chickpeas, but they are running out of time (to get pre-planting rains) if they want to plant wheat.”
Mr Martin said with the price hovering about $320 a tonne port, it could be tempting for farmers to take a risk on the season.
“The price is about $320/t port, but has been $10/t lower and $10/t higher than that,” he said.
“I think it will be a challenge to farmers, the price is tantalising.”
Mr Martin said those who planned to sow wheat were hitting a critical time to get good falls of rain, as many northern growers used Anzac Day is a benchmark to start planting.
“Growers who have a full moisture profile will forward cover themselves and those with only half, will do little in terms of forward pricing,” he said.
With the international wheat market strong it was still a critical time, as the risk of dry weather in the US and the crisis between Russia and the Ukraine spooking the market.
“The dry weather in the US is affecting their wheat crop, it could be killed by frost, they need rain too,” he said.
“The US are tight with its wheat stocks, it won’t have to import though, it will just use a substitute like corn.
“It will inhibit the US ability to export, as it won’t be able to look after its trade customers as easily.”
Geocommodities director Brad Knight, Bendigo, Victoria, said there were many factors influencing different sections of the market across the country.
He said the rain across the east coast in recent weeks had helped those planting winter crops, while those in drier areas may not have sown much at all.
“Farmers always sow a crop in Vic, SA and southern NSW, as they rely more on in-crop rainfall to grow, but as you move further north into NSW and Queensland, the growers are more responsive to the soil moisture levels before planting.”
WINTER crop preparation is in full swing at Doug Nash’s Cudal property “Cranbury” following about 70 millimetres of rain in the past month.
“I haven’t started (sowing) yet but I’ll start planting wheat in the first week of May,” Mr Nash said.
“I’m a bit behind on planting, but we’ve had good rain.”
Mr Nash already had his canola sown and last week was spreading lime across his wheat paddocks in the company of his grandson Mitchell, 5, (pictured).
He planned to sow about 250 hectares of wheat consisting of Gregory, Spitfire, Suntop and Livingston varieties.
“I’m aiming for four to five tonnes a hectare on the wheat and I’m hoping for the right finish,” he said.
“I’m hoping the rain keeps up and I expect it to be a good season.
“We will be disappointed if we don’t get a good season, but we are trying to put on as much fertiliser as we can afford.”
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